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The Scottish Conservatives supported the principles of the bill at stage 1, with one or two reservations on matters contained therein. We made it clear that, unless changes were made to the bill, we would not support it at stage 3, but, as we heard from my colleague Derek Brownlee, the changes that we
John Swinney was correct when he said that the chamber did not agree on every issue during the course of the day. Indeed, that was perhaps something of an understatement. We think that the order-making power in part 2 is required, which is why we voted against various amendments from Mr Whitton. We think that the power is desirable and that it allows a more streamlined process than primary legislation. It allows faster, more nimble movement and we are satisfied that sufficient safeguards are contained in the provisions and that there has been sufficient movement from the Government to allow us to support it and, indeed, the bill as a whole.
In the amendments that my colleague Derek Brownlee lodged, he focused on the transparency of spending by Government and its agencies. We think that having transparency and making those agencies accountable for the money that they spend is, in itself, a good thing and we think that it will lead to a reduction in expenditure on non-essential items.
My final point is on the amendments to which Mr Purvis referred. We considered them, because we want there to be a reduction in the size of the public purse, but he needs to note a couple of points before he puts out his press release this evening. The first one is that Derek Brownlee pointed out that the measure would save approximately £88,000. No Liberal Democrat challenged that figure. If the measure was truly about saving money and saving the public purse, they did not come back with any larger figure that they felt would be saved. Perhaps they could put that on their press release. The Liberal Democrats might also reflect on the fact that, when push came to shove, only 17 members supported amendment 78. The Liberal Democrats were unable to convince any of the larger parties that the measures were legal and would make a tangible difference.
Reform will be a dominating issue during the next five to 10 years. What matters is what happens afterwards.